Concrete circles marking old airfields

Ed Haywood

En-Route
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
2,723
Location
Tampa FL
Display Name

Display name:
Big Ed
I am based at FD77, a private grass strip southeast of Tampa, FL. It was originally established as Wimauma Army Air Corps Auxiliary Airfield in 1938, and was used for fighter and bomber training during WWII.

Apparently old airfields in those days were marked with a large circle for visibility from the air. During some recent research, the current field operator noticed a circle in some pre-war aerial photos. He did some digging and found it!

Pretty cool, I say. If you are in the area, feel free to stop by and take a look. There is a Veterans day fly in tomorrow from noon to 5 that will include some more history of the field.
 

Attachments

  • PXL_20231110_185432133.jpg
    PXL_20231110_185432133.jpg
    5.1 MB · Views: 109
  • PXL_20231110_185414715.jpg
    PXL_20231110_185414715.jpg
    7.2 MB · Views: 109
  • PXL_20231110_185257261.jpg
    PXL_20231110_185257261.jpg
    4.1 MB · Views: 107
Last edited:
Usually, "did some digging" is a figure of speech. Here, it was literal. Took me a second to realize that!

Pretty cool find! I'd never heard of that before.
 
That resembles an old lighter than air tie down spot.

If there was a pole or remnants of a pole in the center of the circle then it might be an old tie down spot.
 
lol, looks like the ancient CDIs on my soon-to-be former airplane. Wonder what the ANP on that thing is, 10.0 miles maybe? :rofl:
About the same range of movement on some of the rental plane CDIs I've flown. :)
 
I'm an information junkie and have saved a number of links to "olde time" aviation navigation just in case I need them in my writing. Here are a few:

Guiding lights: (Airway beacons)

Concrete arrows:
 
Last edited:
Surely they are just circular runways?
1699748113904.png
 
Quite interesting, I do a lot of flying in the backcountry of Idaho. At Fish Lake there is a concrete circle, roughly mid field in the middle of the runway. I wonder if it was something like you have there?
 
If you look at some of the WW2 era airfields, you can see concrete circles. They were the reinforcement for the dirigible/airship touchdown area and circled the mooring mast.

Look at Houma, LA, Lakehurst,NJ and of course, Akron, OH.
 
Circles, eh? Squares are what we find in Iowa, for paved WW2 naval airfields. Here's one that is now used as a parking lot for a school:

1699762678228.png
 
Nobody caught the period-correct aircraft in the 3rd pic. Here is a closer look.
View attachment 122304
My father taught students in all three of those. BT-13s could be purchased as surplus after the war. Hometown man got one and converted it to a four seater. Unfortunately he killed himself and his family in it.
 
In the 30s many early fields were just circular or roughly square and pilots simply landed into the wind at all times. Have a book somewhere from around 1935 that lists "all" the airfields in the country by city - there are notes if one CANNOT land in any direction and also sometimes that the open field is traversed also by cindered or (imagine!) paved runways. But it's clear that those improvements are for the convenience of the larger aircraft beginning to operate at the time and not a limitation to using whatever part of the field needed in the direction required. See also for example mile-square field outside Pensacola.
 
A friend of mine has a hobby of finding 4 course radio range installations. The towers are long gone, but the concrete bases will be around for a long time. Some of the buildings containing the radio equipment still exist, repurposed as storage.
 
In the 30s many early fields were just circular or roughly square and pilots simply landed into the wind at all times. Have a book somewhere from around 1935 that lists "all" the airfields in the country by city - there are notes if one CANNOT land in any direction and also sometimes that the open field is traversed also by cindered or (imagine!) paved runways. But it's clear that those improvements are for the convenience of the larger aircraft beginning to operate at the time and not a limitation to using whatever part of the field needed in the direction required. See also for example mile-square field outside Pensacola.

I am told the circles were originally placed in the center of such aerodromes to indicate they were airfields and not just random clearings.

Did some reading on the National Air Marking Program. Found this reference from 1929: https://www.adirondackalmanack.com/2016/05/aviation-history-north-country-pilots.html

"By the end of July, more than 3,000 communities nationwide had been marked, including Plattsburgh’s Mobodo Airport roof. Atop the nearby Lobdell block was an arrow aimed towards the airport. A large circle of white crushed stone, the official airfield insignia in the U. S., marked the ground near Mobodo’s runways."
 
I am based at FD77, a private grass strip southeast of Tampa, FL. It was originally established as Wimauma Army Air Corps Auxiliary Airfield in 1938, and was used for fighter and bomber training during WWII.

Apparently old airfields in those days were marked with a large circle for visibility from the air. During some recent research, the current field operator noticed a circle in some pre-war aerial photos. He did some digging and found it!

Pretty cool, I say. If you are in the area, feel free to stop by and take a look. There is a Veterans day fly in tomorrow from noon to 5 that will include some more history of the field.
Another type of circular concrete pavement found at some WWII airfields were what were known as "Dispersal Parking". The military found out the hard way that parking aircraft in nice neat rows
made them easy targets in case of enemy attack. One answer was to scatter the parking spots over a large area to (hopefully) lessen the damage. Santa Maria Airport in California was a WWII AAF
base, and some of the concrete parking spots can still be seen here and there. Take a look on Google Maps Satellite View:

There used to be more of them, but other uses (like farming) have encroached on the area over the years.

Dave
 
NAS Beeville had a gigantic round "runway" with a wind sock in the middle of it, so the cadets could always land into the wind. It is long gone now.

Marine Corps Outlying Field Mile Square (MCOLF) was named after Mile square farm, but it did have three runways and an apron that was nearly a square mile. The nearby Tustin MCAS was a helicopter base and also had blimp hangars, which are still there, despite all the surrounding land being developed into shopping malls.
 
Tustin MCAS was a helicopter base and also had blimp hangars, which are still there
 
Back
Top